Yesterday we finished canning the last batch of peaches. We hadn’t done any canning the last few years. Summertime gets so busy and we pop things in the freezer in the rush and it seems we blink and before we know it summer is over and we didn’t can anything. We didn’t want that to happen this year. Canned peaches are a favorite of Jeff’s and he was determined to can some while peach season was still here. I called around to many local farms to find a source for peaches. I heard rumors of some farms using organically approved sprays only and was excited, but when I inquired further, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides were being used on the fruit. Darn! I care about feeding our family clean, organic food and especially with having a son with a neurological speech disorder, the importance has become even greater for me.
Luckily, we found a source for organic peaches. They were in high demand, so we waited our turn to get some after the other orders were filled. We love working with farmers who are happy to answer any questions and who are so open in sharing about their farming practices. Buying the organic peaches made our canned peaches much more expensive to be sure, but it was so worth it for us. Not only did we feel good eating them, we felt good supporting the farmers putting in the extra work to grow them that way. And small farms like that appreciate each and every customer and every dollar that is spent there.
I love doing canning projects with Jeff because he is so good about orchestrating the dance of canning, getting the timing of everything right and focusing on the bigger picture of all the moving parts. I, however, enjoy focusing on one single task and cranking it out. I liked to cut the peaches and put them in lemon water. Bracken helped take the skins off and remove the pits and together, our family made a great canning team this year. We did our food prep in the kitchen and the actual canning outside. Someday we’d like to have a whole set up outdoors, but in the meantime we really like being able to do the canning outside.
With the first batch of peaches that we canned, we lost two jars! That was heartbreaking, so I bought brand new canning jars for the other two batches we canned and we didn’t lose a single jar after that. Jeff and I decided that in the future we will only use new jars when canning peaches. They are too precious to lose! We have so many canning jars though and want to keep using them, so will use them for things like applesauce, which we make tons of and aren’t as heartbroken if we lose a jar. We have more canning we want to do this year, canning applesauce is a must and it would be wonderful to can some pears too. We think of applesauce as a staple, whereas the canned peaches are more of a treat. A jar of golden sunshine in the middle of winter, they are definitely a treat!
It was such a good feeling to fill up our pantry shelves with peaches. And instead of looking at rows of empty jars, to be looking at those shining golden ones. (They remind me of the jars of canned peaches in my grandma’s pantry.) We ended up with 22 quarts of peaches this year. We also froze a lot of peaches, we love them in our smoothies. We set some peaches aside that needed to ripen further and have been enjoying some for fresh eating. Cold peaches right out of the refrigerator taste so good eaten outside on a hot day! When my mom called and I mentioned canning peaches, we both started into song: “Peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin, supper’s ready! Everybody come on in! Taste a little of the summer, taste a little of the summer, taste a little of the summer, Grandma put it all in jars!” Canned Goods by Greg Brown is one of my very favorite songs and I will forever think of it every time I can peaches. (Lyrics and link to the song can be found here.)
Last night I cleaned up the sticky, peachy kitchen and mopped the floors. By the time we sat down for dinner last night, Jeff and I both needed to give our feet a break, they were hurting from being on them all day long. I’ve been busy cleaning and getting ready for my mom’s visit. She is arriving today and it’s her birthday. I don’t even remember the last time I was able to celebrate her birthday with her in person and it’s such a gift to be able to do so. I finished baking cupcakes yesterday and making frosting and she has requested peaches, so there will certainly be some peaches with her birthday dessert!